Saturday, 30 July 2011

A Tale of Katy in the Night

Mother Goose, by Gustave Doré - via Wikimedia Commons - public domain

From Charles Newbury's Fairy Tales from the Old Marches, written some short centuries after the events of Three Katherines of Allingdale:

"...I do not say, that if a very good Child shall break the bread of Drizzle Mill today, she shall find stars in it; nor that if a very bad one durst climb Featherhowe without his Parents' leave, his hopes and dreams shall now burst out of his heart to find them better nests to dwell in. For in the World's grey age we are grown mighty sagacious and wise; and by once learning to lug dirty coals in a fire-wagon, we prove at once that nobody ever outraced the wind on a yellow mare, nor made the sea that is the sky break in thunder upon our daily hills.

"As for the Good Witch Katy, the hero or helper of so many of these tales, the learned Doctors will say now that she was one person, next that she was two or three; again that she never lived, or else that she must have been only the wise Dame Catriona Tynde, and here is the address where the tradesmen's bills found her. On nothing will they agree, save that she was not a Witch; or if she was, she was not Good; and in any case she did not amend everything, because nothing can ever be amended. And who grows old and schoolmasterly enough, he may search their dusty books all his life and hope to judge the right of it.

"But for myself, I confess very simply that there is an Elfland, and that stars shine out of loaves of bread, and hopes take wing out of broken hearts - which great courage and grace unlooked-for may yet amend in time. These things the old Wives and rambling Storytellers of the East Country remember, if more respectable Folk do not; and for those yet young and simple of soul I have collected the best of these ancient tales and fashioned them politely, so that the charms and wisdom in them shall not remain the Peasant's portion only. For as the other tale reminds us, Gentlefolk have neglected charm and wisdom once before - and rains of red coals we then got for it.

"These small tales are not that stern tale. They are only my own poor mortal door to Elfland that is eternal; and in She who weaves in and out of them, I venture that Young and Old alike may find their best and safest Guide to that fairest and most perilous of countries.

"Charles Newbury, Esq.,
Latham, 1684 Anno Victoris Orbis."


A Tale of Katy in the Night

Hush, my little darling,
And back to bed you creep!
"The Red Fox rides the sallow Moon
And hunts me through my sleep!"

A comet's not a fox, my love.
The Moon is not her horse.
"But Lackland with his dead stag's head
Comes storming through the gorse!"

You sleep in down, not gorse, my love.
Who was not, will not come.
"But frightful Fireguard calls me back -
Oh, hear her devil's drum!"

Your heart is not a drum, my love,
Nor you a knight of old,
But if you cuddle quiet and close,
You'll hear the tale told

How one kind careful serving-girl
Did master all the three -
So if you chance to dream again,
You'll be as brave as she!

*

"Hush, my darling mother -
It's off to bed I go
To dream I walk with Katy in
The lands of long ago!"

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